CARLTON J. SMITH Diagram Of A Relationship
US Exile Records, 2007
1) Diagram Intro 2) I Desire You 3) Diagram #1 4) I'd Better 5) There's A Woman 1
Inside Of You 6) Love 7) Diagram #2 8) Beautiful Thing 9) Precious Moments
10) Love, Love, Love 11) Diagram #3 12) Could We Not Argue Today?
13) I Believe We Can Work It Out 14) I'm Finda 15) Bless You
16) Running From Love 17) I Still Believe In The Future
This gentleman came to our attention here at Soul Express back in 2007 with his excellent
double sider 7” single on Soulchoonz Records. I did bemoan that even though the quality
of said single was very high, I would still prefer these tracks on CD. Look no further!
The man has delivered us a set that will, if you have seen him live, will certainly
appeal to you. Carlton J. Smith, as I said before, is very much in the
Wade O. Brown bag and has cleverly added a gritty, preaching Southern soul sound
with Stax sensibilities to a heavier, modern soul type beats. In fact, it's almost genius.
The horns – I'm sure they aren't sampled but one can never always tell – are straight
out of Hi Records and the beat is a stepper's dream. Carlton is a true gentleman
of Soul and has more than a passing passion when it comes to his music – on his
arms are tattooed all his heroes from soul music. Now that's dedication!
I have to say that this CD's best songs are still, for my ears, the single release.
“Love” simply trips along with a skipping, clapping beat and was an assured radio
hit, doing the business on the UK scene last year. The horns add some real grit
to the tight drum and hand clap beat. This man is a serious talent. “I'd Better”really
is the business and dominates the CD marvellously. If you want to hear new, classic
soul then this is surely it. The album is almost like a journey; a storybook where
Carlton and some fine Ladies introduce each track with a funky backbeat. The
chunky head-nodder “I Desire You” will be a radio hit, his vocals raw, raspy
and suppored by a sexy female backing singer. Vocally, Carlton has you in his
clutches, and once there he does not intend to let you go.
“There's A Woman Inside You” is smack bang in the Wilson Pickett / Otis Redding
bag but overlaid with heavy hip-hop styled beats. This meeting of the late 60s
and the hip hop generation works very well – especially with a REAL singer like
Carlton in control of the mic. On “Love Love Love” we are joined by female vocalist
Tracy Braithwaite; another singer who could easily project herself and TESTIFY
in a way that Shirley Brown would. The modern groove augmented by harpsichord
type keys manages to straddle both old and new sensibilities. The driving hi-hat beat
is rather sexy and something you could – if the night works out right – grind to!
“Bless You” with its opening monologue is supported by some superb music a la
Norman Whitfield in his early 70s Temptations period. Again,
Tracy Braithwaite, joins us for some serious vocal interplay. This is a very strong track.
“Take heed” of what a woman wants, so the Man says and who's not to agree with that?
No good certainly comes of it, and if you've ever had your ear bent because of it
then you will know what I mean! LOL. This album is a solid platform for the man to
be noticed, and I cannot wait to see where the journey will take Carlton J. Smith –
but I get a feeling only good things can come from this.
- Barry Towler